FBI warns Beijing Winter Olympics could be a big target for cyberattacks

China's flag overlays laptop screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The FBI has warned “entities associated” with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and the 2022 Winter Paralympics to beware of potential cyberattacks against the event organizers and the surrounding supply chain.

"The FBI to date is not aware of any specific cyber threat against the Olympics, but encourages partners to remain vigilant and maintain best practices in their network and digital environments," the Bureau said in a private industry notification (PIN) document. 

Different cybercrime groups, nation-state or otherwise, could try to take advantage of the Olympics to “make money, sow confusion, increase their notoriety, discredit adversaries, and advance ideological goals,” the warning added.

Malware and ransomware campaigns

This could happen through a variety of means, from malware campaigns, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware attacks, data theft, social engineering, phishing, or insider threats. 

The results could be devastating for the event’s organizers and the surrounding supply chain, the FBI suggests, as the disruptions could shut down live broadcasts, impact private and public digital infrastructure, or even result in the compromise of personally identifiable data from participants, or the supporting workers. 

The FBI has called upon all relevant parties to “maintain business continuity plans to minimize essential service interruptions”. With remote working being so popular nowadays, as well as the increased use of digitalized infrastructure, businesses are advised to use a VPN, and to regularly monitor their networks and endpoints

The FBI has also suggested businesses review their current security policies, user agreements, and patching plans.

There have already been concerns raised about the official My 2022 app, built for participants of the upcoming games, but apparently marred with security flaws, and could even be tricked to visit malicious websites. 

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.